Brian Lara International Cricket 2007 PlayStation 2
Published by: Codemasters
Developed by: Codemasters
Release Date: Out Now
Unlike football, cricket isn't universally popular and it's no surprise that we don't get to see many video games based on the sport. That said, there have been some real crackers over the years. Games such as Graham Gooch's Cricket and the original Brian Lara Cricket kept me occupied for many hours and whilst my interest in the sport is not as great as it once was I do still enjoy playing video games based on the sport. A few years ago we reviewed Brian Lara International Cricket 2005 and all things considered it was a game we enjoyed. It's rather pleasing then that we now have another addition to the series, Brian Lara International Cricket 2007, and this time it comes with the official license for the ICC Cricket World Cup.
The modes on offer in Brian Lara International Cricket 2007 are ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, ICC Champions Trophy 2006, Custom ODI, Custom Test, and Custom Twenty Overs. There is also a Coaching Mode that lets you get to grips with the game. You can also create your own custom players and teams. Of course most cricket fans will be keen to play through the ICC Cricket World Cup (as well as the ICC Champions Trophy 2006 mode) and here you'll find all of the correct play names, likenesses, kits and logs etc. The England side, for instance, features the likes of Monty Panesar, Michael Vaughan and Andrew Flintoff. However playing any of the custom modes will return you to the world of fictional players with the likes of M. Pasarian, M. Vorner, and A. Flantiff replacing the aforementioned 'real' players.
Whilst I'm happy with the batting and bowling in Brian Lara IC 2007, it's just as intuitive as before and is both comfortable for novices and fans of cricket games in general, I can't say I'm impressed with the method of fielding that's been used. To perform catches and throws to the wicket you have to press the relevant button at the appropriate time and it's far from easy. When a catch is on a timing meter will appear and the idea is to press the appropriate button as the meter is half-full. The problem is that split-second accuracy is required as the meter appears, fills and disappears far too quickly. Only those with cat-like reflexes will be happy with the system but the rest of us will simply feel that the fielding portion of the game is a mess.
The AI in Brian Lara IC 2007 is also something that could have been improved. The main problem here is that the AI just doesn't seem to know how to play cautiously. Far too often the AI goes all out to get the big scores even though they are putting themselves in danger. Of course on the easy difficulty settings this is forgivable as it's allowing the beginner to become comfortable with the game and take advantage of the tactical ineptitude of the AI. On the higher difficulty settings you do expect to see the AI showing more intelligence and knowing when to play safe. Sadly this doesn't happen and you end up with an AI that's happy to lose the wickets as long as it's keeping the runs rolling in regardless of the situation it finds itself in.
Brian Lara International Cricket 2007 is fine for deaf gamers. As you might expect, the game commentary isn't subtitled. Whilst this is a little disappointing it's hardly surprising. Still it won't prevent you from enjoying the game. Deaf gamers will always be aware of what's going so the game is never problematic. I was pleased to see the tutorials in the Coaching Mode are subtitled meaning deaf gamers will have no problems in learning how to play the game. In these tutorials you get to read the text at your own pace and the text is placed in a dialogue box for maximum clarity.
Fans of the Brian Lara series will undoubtedly enjoy Brian Lara International Cricket 2007. The problem is that the game doesn't represent an improvement either on previous games in the series or previous cricket games in general. Graphically it's no real improvement from the last game in series. Whilst it's great to have two officially licensed modes it's a shame that the custom modes only allow you to use fictitious players. The AI just isn't tactically astute and over the long term I daresay it will become quite annoying, particularly as no online play is offered in the PlayStation 2 version. On the positive side the batting and bowling is just as accessible as ever. I just hope the next version comes up with a better method of fielding.
Whilst Brian Lara International Cricket 2007 is a good game, and comes with two officially licensed modes, it actually feels like a step backwards for the series which is both surprising and disappointing.